Wyoming whitebark pine cone crop looking good
Vigorous production of cones spells very good news for grizzly bears-
Although the majority of whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone has died off or burned in recent years, there are still enough for the grizzlies in those years when conditions are optimal for cone production.
There is a long and strong data set showing fewer grizzlies die in conflicts with humans during years of good whitebark seed production because the bears are at high altitude during the critical months when they are trying to put on winter fat and hunting season is taking place outside Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks.
Whitebark pine cone crop looking good. “High-protein food could help reduce conflicts between grizzlies, hunters this fall”. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
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The female grizzly bear with three cubs killed last Sunday by a man in the Clark, WY area won’t be partaking in whitebark pinenuts. The man was mauled by her after surprising her and her cubs. He said he felt bad about killing her, but had no choice. The only mention of bear spray was that his wife said the attack was too quick for bear spray to work (she was not present when this happened). It was not reported that he had bear spray with him, only a pistol with which he fired three shots at the grizzly and killed her. The three cubs will be going to a zoo in Tennessee.
The amount of whitebark pine cones on the trees on Dunraven pass (Yellowstone) looks great!! Lots of big cones already. Hopefully it will be like 2006, with lots of black bears hanging out in the trees up there!!
With relisting grizzlies a distinct possibility, it’s no suprise the agencies are doing press releases suggesting bear mortality willl drop this fall because of good whitebark pine crops. But let’s not forget that 40-80% of whiteback pine in the Yellowstone region have been wiped out in recent years. So a great year in 2009 would have been a crappy year in 1999. And the long term prognosis is not good.